Fact: Minutes after the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson, former Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr., now an NFL Network analyst, declared, “RGIII, you’re out, buddy.”
Opinion: It’s a popular notion, but I’m not so sure. Admittedly, the chances of Robert Griffin III III playing a meaningful role for the Ravens diminished with Jackson’s addition. But if I’m the Ravens, I’m thinking long and hard about keeping three quarterbacks for the first time in a long time in 2018. Griffin, 28, could be an ideal backup if and when Jackson becomes the starter, and if truly healthy, hey, he’s a high-end talent who could challenge for snaps. Either way, given his injury history, he’s the right person to counsel Jackson on what NOT to do to sustain a long pro career.
Fact: Dez Bryant remains without a job after reportedly turning down a multi-year deal from the Ravens.
Opinion: Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome should “circle back” and check in with the former Dallas star to see if he has changed his mind about coming to Baltimore. I’m not sure why Bryant, 29, is getting no love whatsoever from any other team, but he can still contribute, perhaps as much or more than any of the veteran receivers the Ravens have signed this offseason. The Ravens would probably have to “redshirt” one of their rookie receivers if they signed Bryant, but he would add depth and danger to the receiving corps – at the right price, almost surely.
Fact: Three starters on the Ravens’ 2017 Opening Day offense are, like Bryant, still without jobs for 2018: receiver Jeremy Maclin, tackle Austin Howard and running back Terrance West.
Opinion: It was no surprise that the Ravens declined to pick up the fifth-year option on Breshad Perriman’s contract. It won’t be a big surprise, either, if Perriman, a workout warrior, shines in spring practices, raising the possibility (again) of him contributing in 2018. Nonetheless, given his diminishing long-term prospects here, the Ravens might be doing both him and themselves a favor by finding a trade partner and letting him start over somewhere.
Fact: Among the 27 rookies participating in this weekend’s rookie camp at the Under Armour Performance Center, Jackson, 21, is the second-youngest.
Opinion: There’s little doubt tight end Hayden Hurst is the Ravens rookie likeliest to contribute immediately, with fellow tight end Mark Andrews right behind him. But the sleeper pick in that category is cornerback Anthony Averett, a fourth-round pick. Given Jimmy Smith’s injury history, it’s quite possible the defense will be looking for a starting cornerback at some point in 2018. Veteran Brandon Carr offers a comfortable safety net, but Averett, with his speed and Alabama pedigree, is an interesting candidate.
Fact: After playing their only two prime-time games on the road in 2018, the Ravens will have played 12 of their 17 prime-time games on the road since they won Super Bowl 47.
Opinion: I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists who believes the league and the networks are in cahoots to make the Ravens’ life tougher. But the organization should make these numbers known to the powers-that-be who make these calls. If what goes around truly comes around, the Ravens are due a few home games under the lights in the coming years.
Fact: The Ravens allowed the third-most rushing yards in a season in their history in 2017, exceeded only by 1996 and, get this, 2012, a Super Bowl-winning season.
Opinion: After they didn’t address this under-the-radar issue in either free agency or with a high draft pick, it’s clear the Ravens are counting on the continued development of still-young recent picks such as Carl Davis, Willie Henry, Bronson Kaufusi and Chris Wormley to support Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce.
Fact: The last time an undrafted rookie didn’t make the Ravens’ roster was 2003.
Opinion: Nothing against this year’s UDFA crop, which includes some promising talent, but this could be the toughest year in recent memory for an out-of-nowhere guy to try to make the final 53. The Ravens don’t like to cut draft picks and they have 12. If they keep three quarterbacks for the reasons stated above, there goes another spot. All in all, a tight squeeze looms.